The Historic Flag Pole
At Pittsburgh's Original
Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science

Authored By Glenn A. Walsh *** Sponsored By Friends of the Zeiss
Electronic Mail: < flagpole@planetarium.cc > *** Internet Web Site Cover Page: < http://www.planetarium.cc >
This Internet Web Page: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/facilities/flagpole.html >
News: Astronomy, Space, Science: SpaceWatchtower Blog
2013 December 7

The American flag flies proudly on the historic flag pole at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science in the early 1980s.

The American flag fies proudly over Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science,
on the historic flag pole which premiered with the building in October of 1939. This view, from the early
1980s, shows school children, from a school group visiting Buhl Planetarium, eating lunch in the amphitheater
of the original Allegheny Square Plaza built in the 1960s.
(Image Source: Francis G. Graham, Professor Emeritus of Physics, Kent State University)

Walsh, Glenn A. "Historic Buhl Planetarium Flag Pole Refurbished, Back-in-Use." Blog Post.
SpaceWatchtower 2013 Dec. 7.

Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science was dedicated to public service on the evening of 1939 October 24, with the building opening to the general public the next day. The building and all property, including a new flag pole on Buhl Planetarium's east lawn, was then gifted and conveyed by the Buhl Foundation to the City of Pittsburgh.

The flag pole measures more than 30 feet tall, towering over the entire building except for the outer planetarium dome. The American flag was raised and lowered using a metal chain (with metal quadrangle links). Some years after the Buhl Planetarium building completely closed in February of 1994, and while the building was still vacant, this metal chain was stolen, apparently for the scrap-metal value.

The American flag was displayed from this flag pole each day, from the early morning to sunset, for most of the tenure of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science / Buhl Science Center (Buhl Science Center name was used from February of 1982 to August of 1991). However, sometime in the 1980s, the daily habit of raising and lowering the flag fell-away. The author, Glenn A. Walsh, continued to raise and lower the flag on major American holidays (Buhl Planetarium was open to the public for all of these holidays, except Christmas Day).

Then, a member of the general public started complaining that Buhl Planetarium was not raising the flag every day. At that point, Dr. Alphonse DeSena, then Director of the Buhl Science Center (which had recently merged with The Carnegie Institute / Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh), directed that the flag fly 24-hours a day. However, he did not arrange to have the flag illuminated at night. Although there are no legal penalties for a violation, the U.S. Flag Code instructs that the American flag should always be illuminated, when displayed at night. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that any penalties for violation of the U.S. Flag Code would conflict with the right of Freedom of Speech in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

One day, it was noticed that the flag was gone. It was assumed, particularly considering that the flag was not illuminated after nightfall, that the flag was stolen one night.

The author, Glenn A. Walsh, sought a new American flag, preferably to be donated by a congressman. Mr. Walsh's local congressman (Mr. Walsh lived in Pittsburgh's South Hills) chose to defer the honor, of providing a new flag to Buhl Planetarium, to the congressman who officially represented the congressional district where Buhl Planetarium is located: William J. Coyne. Congressman Coyne provided a new American flag for Buhl Planetarium, free-of-charge, one which had once flown over the U.S. Capitol building.

When Dr. DeSena first learned that Buhl's new flag had once flown over the U.S. Capitol, he was immediately concerned that this valuable flag might also be stolen. However, he was advised that congressmen routinely provide flags that have once flown over the U.S. Capitol. Such flags are not rare or much more valuable than any other American flag.

The new American flag was not displayed on the flag pole daily. Mr. Walsh continued to display this new American flag on major American holidays.

In August of 1990, a new off-site museum exhibit of the Buhl Science Center arrived in Pittsburgh: the USS Requin submarine. The World War II / Cold War, diesel-electric submarine was moored on the North Shore of the Ohio River, across from Downtown Pittsburgh's Golden Triangle, at the site of the then-under construction Carnegie Science Center building. Launched on 1945 January 1, after a shakedown off of the New England coast this boat reached Pearl Harbor, Hawaii at the end of July of 1945. However, three days before the submarine was scheduled to begin the first World War II patrol, the War ended. For several years, during the Cold War, it served as a Radar Picket Submarine, and later as a normal attack submarine. The submarine was decommissioned on 1968 December 3. Beginning in September of 1990, when Buhl Science Center staff and World War II veterans (as Science Center volunteers) started to provide tours of the submarine to the general public, the American flag Buhl Planetarium had received from Congressman Coyne started flying from the stern of the USS Requin.

Once the Buhl Planetarium building closed completely, in February of 1994, the flag pole was not used again until November of 2013. After a flag pole refurbishsment and reuse project, spearheaded by Angelo Galioto, a chef working for the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh (which had started using the Buhl Planetarium building in November of 2004), the American flag started flying from the historic flag pole, once again, in time for Veterans' Day in 2013. More on the 2013 refurbishment and reuse of the historic Buhl Planetarium flag pole.

Walsh, Glenn A. "Historic Buhl Planetarium Flag Pole Refurbished, Back-in-Use." Blog Post.
SpaceWatchtower 2013 Dec. 7.

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The Historic Flag Pole
At Pittsburgh's Original
Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science

Authored By Glenn A. Walsh *** Sponsored By Friends of the Zeiss
Electronic Mail: < flagpole@planetarium.cc > *** Internet Web Site Cover Page: < http://www.planetarium.cc >
This Internet Web Page: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/facilities/flagpole.html >
News: Astronomy, Space, Science: SpaceWatchtower Blog
2013 December 7

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Internet Web Site Master Index for the History of
The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, Pittsburgh

Other Internet Web Sites of Interest

History of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, Pittsburgh

History of Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum, Chicago

Astronomer, Educator, and Telescope Maker John A. Brashear

History of Andrew Carnegie and Carnegie Libraries

Historic Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh

Disclaimer Statement: This Internet Web Site is not affiliated with the Andrew Carnegie Free Library,
Ninth Pennsylvania Reserves Civil War Reenactment Group, Henry Buhl, Jr. Planetarium and Observatory,
The Carnegie Science Center, The Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh/Carnegie Institute, or The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

This Internet, World Wide Web Site administered by Glenn A. Walsh.
Unless otherwise indicated, all pages in this web site are --
Copyright 2013, Glenn A. Walsh, All Rights Reserved.
Contact Web Site Administrator: < flagpole@planetarium.cc >.

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